Nike has signed controversial former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick to a multi-year, multi-million dollar endorsement deal. Reports are that Kaepernick’s deal is structured to mirror deals of current, active, star-level NFL players. He will have his own apparel line consisting of clothing and shoes, and receive “millions per year plus royalties.”
Kaepernick first caught the attention of the mainstream media in 2017 when he began kneeling during the National Anthem at a preseason game. Kaepernick said the protest was meant to draw attention to social injustice and unfair treatment of minorities in the United States.
The protest spread and other players began taking part. The movement then took on national prominence when President Trump addressed it by referring to the players as “sons of bitches.” He also said he would fire any player that participated in the protest if he were an NFL owner.
Kaepernick has not been able to land another job in the NFL since his contract with the San Francisco 49ers concluded. Many believe that is a direct result of his involvement in the protest.
The Nike campaign features Kaepernick narrating an ad that instructs viewers to not “ask if your dreams are crazy, ask if they’re crazy enough.” The commercials features tennis great Serena Williams, United States women’s national soccer team star Alex Morgan and one-handed NFL linebacker Shaquem Griffin, all athletes in the Nike stable.
The decision to feature Kaepernick in Nike’s new ad has drawn harsh criticism from some, with fans across country posting photos and videos of themselves burning and destroying their Nike gear.
For Nike, the move is about connecting with a younger generation of athletes as the company is getting ready to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its blockbuster “Just Do It” campaign.
“We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” said Gino Fisanotti Nike’s vice president of brand for North America. “We wanted to energize its meaning and introduce ‘Just Do It’ to a new generation of athletes.”
President Trump criticized Nike’s decision and seemed to suggest the NFL’s lagging ratings were related to the controversies.
“Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way? As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!” the President wrote on Twitter.
The NFL, in a statement released yesterday, acknowledged the importance of Kaepernick’s protest, without taking a firm stand one or the other on the latest controversy involving Nike.
“The National Football League believes in dialogue, understanding and unity. We embrace the role and responsibility of everyone involved with this game to promote meaningful, positive change in our communities,” NFL Executive Vice President Jocelyn Moore said.
“The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action.”
Nike has confirmed that it has purchased air time on the season-opening NFL game tomorrow tonight where it will air the Kaepernick ad.
Photo by Nike